I admit the books for this month got away from me and we actually saw the movie before I had finished the book, so here is the delayed LitFlix. Now the first obvious difference is that they decided to name the movie different than the book, which I actually appreciate because the movie takes the basic premise of the book, but tells a completely different story. Edge of Tomorrow is a decent action movie that does a great job playing with time travel, but it is not the book All You Need is Kill. Both the movie and book were good, but were presenting pretty different stories. (Spoilers for Edge of Tomorrow and All You Need is Kill after the jump)
First let’s go over the ideas where the movie obviously got its inspiration. In All You Need is Kill Earth is under attack from creatures known as Mimics. These creatures destroy any land that they come into contact with. In the movie we are not sure why the Mimics are here just that they could mean the end of humanity. In the book they explain that they are a specially designed terraforming machine that was sent to Earth from another planet. Different reasons, but the idea is the same that Mimics are destroying the Earth and seem to be making a pretty good push towards the world’s destruction.
The other similarity that is important is the idea of a time loop. The movie and book handle the time loop in a very similar way. The basic idea is that the person is killed and wakes up on the morning before the battle when they died. This then repeats itself multiple times. So what do you do if you seem to be stuck in an infinite loop always about to go into battle? You train. Some of the hope being that if you somehow survive the attack then you will make it past the battle. Now in both the book and the movie the time loop happens because the main character accidentally kills a special type of Mimic, called Alpha in the movie and the Server in the book. The idea being that the Mimics have the ability to control time and somehow by being near this particular Mimic at its death a human can latch on to the time loop.
Now here is where we start to get into some of the big differences between the book and movie. In the book the Mimics are machines and the server is just relaying information to the other Mimics, and they then relay information back to the server so that when the day restarts the server has all the information about what had come before. They have to kill the Mimics in a particular order to not have the day reset and the only way to stop the Mimics is to destroy them all and in the exact order in each battle.
In the movie they made the Mimics an alien race in and of themselves that has a central intelligence similar to the Borg. There is a master mind that is communicating all the Alphas who then communicate with all of the basic soldiers. When the main character gets stuck in the time loop they are connected to the central intelligence and have actually taken over control of the time loop. So if they did survive the battle then they would get out of the time loop for that battle, but would continue to have it otherwise.
This brings me to the third difference that completely changes the tone of the story being told and that is the fact that in the book they are focusing on a single battle and not the whole war. The movie decides to up the drama a notch by making the fight humanities last stand. By having it be a single battle the book does not end with a complete satisfaction because they have not defeated the Mimics. In a book this is okay, but I am not sure how well this tends to work with movies especially in our world of sequels. The other part of it being a single battle versus winning the war the book definitely draws more attention to the cost of battle because the main character goes through the loop so many times and sees so many people die.
This does lead into the other significant difference and that is the fact that in All You Need is Kill once Rita (the Full Metal Bitch) became connected to the server Mimic, and even though she ended her time loop, she was still connected to the Mimics. It ends up being that Rita and the main character in the book cannot both live through the loop because they have become a part of the machine that causes the time loop. They become part of the pieces that need to be killed before killing the server. It becomes even more tragic because this is not the end of the war it is just single battle in the war and only one can come out alive on the other side.
There were a few things that annoyed me some of it is small and other things just felt unnecessary. One of my annoyances is that they completely changed the position and race of the main character from the book to the movie. In the book the main character is Keiji Kiriya is a new recruit in the United Defense Force. In the movie the main character is Sergeant Cage played by Tom Cruise, who is actually the public relations for the United States Army. In the movie he had convinced people to join the United Defense Force to do a final push against the Mimics. Cage actually gets sent to the front lines as punishment for trying to blackmail a senior officer. Now the change in the story for the character is not that big of a deal, but he is supposed to be a Japanese officer.
The story even is supposed to take place in Japan and them changing the location with changing the scale of the battle is not too terrible. They decided to basically recreate D-Day with the battles against the Mimics. I mean you could have even made the character Japanese American and kept the movie exactly the same. I personally saw the movie because of Emily Blunt more than Tom Cruise.
Secondly in the book the engineer / scientist who works with Rita is a female. She keeps the jackets working and is the one who got Rita her speciality weapon that she uses. In the movie it is a sword, but in the book Rita carries around an axe, which is pretty awesome. So what do they do in the movie, but change the scientist character to a male. Again, they did not have to keep the same characterization from the book, but it would have been great for them to show a female scientist. There really is no reason for this decision other than wanted to get Noah Taylor back as nerdy scientist.
Both the movie and book are a good time and I would recommend them. The movie definitely shows the problematic nature of Hollywood and stories. Some of the problem comes from changing races, changing gender, and needing the love story. In the book Keiji falls in love with Rita because he is spending all these days with her, but in the end only one of them can survive. In the movie Cage and Rita die saving the world, but in order to end on a happy ending we need to have both survive so we use the time loop idea to send them back one more time. The movie has the happy ending, but the book ending gives more weight to the circumstances and to the characters.